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Joseph Mountain, 1758-1790 and David Daggett, 1764-1851
Sketches of the Life of Joseph Mountain, a Negro, Who Was Executed at New-Haven, on the 20th Day of October, 1790, for a Rape, Committed on the 26th Day of May Last. [The Writer of This History Has Directed That the Money Arising From the Sales Thereof, After Deducting the Expence of Printing, &c. Be Given to the Unhappy Girl, Whose Life Is Rendered Wretched by the Crime of the Malefactor.]
New-Haven: T. and S. Green, 1790.


Joseph Mountain (1758-1790) dictated this narrative while awaiting a death sentence for the crime of rape. He grew up in Philadelphia as a house servant for Samuel Mifflin, Esq. When he was seventeen, his master granted him permission to sail to London. While there, he met two thieves, Francis Hyde and Thomas Wilson, and soon Mountain was acting as an accomplice in crimes in and around London, York, and Newmarket. For a short time, Mountain worked as a ship cook, but he soon returned to London and met up with a gang of highway robbers. Several years later, he married a young white woman, Nancy Allingame. During the three years of their marriage, he exhausted the property and money that were his through their union. He then left her and, with Hyde and Wilson, resumed his former criminal activities. In 1789, he returned to America. A few days later, he was caught and whipped for stealing five dollars. Shortly after, he was arrested for the rape of his former wife, although Mountain claimed that the crime was assault. He was executed for his crime October 20, 1790.

Works Consulted: Andrews, William L. To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760-1865, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1986.

Monique Prince

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